May 22, 2008

Pre-Race Diet

According to Should I Carbo Load Before the Marathon:

The expert physician panel at the 2005 Marathon Directors College said carbohydrate loading has been dropped by most serious marathoners. You should eat a normal diet with 60-70% carbohydrates the week before the marathon, but do not increase your total calories.
That makes total sense to me, and is exactly what I was trying to do. Keep the calories fairly normal (maybe a tad bit higher than my usual daily goal), but increase the carbs just slightly (since I tend to go high-protein low-carb most days… certainly not all-out Atkins-style, but I usually skip starches in favor of more protein when I can).

Two Days Before the Marathon
If you want a traditional pasta party, the time to do it is 2 nights before the marathon. Do not overeat. Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption. Drink plenty of water. A giant bowl of pasta and a huge salad with lots of roughage are not recommended – you need moderation.

Well, the pasta party is the night before, and I already paid, but I’ll have a relatively small/normal amount like I did the night before Providence. Tomorrow, however, I plan to go over to the Marriott so I can have some of their amazing oat bran French toast for breakfast, then for dinner, head to the North End and have some kind of yummy pasta with marinara sauce and seafood (still no cheese because I’m actually being good about the cholesterol thing).

One Day Before the Marathon
Eliminate any high fiber foods and foods that cause gas, such as beans, broccoli, bran cereals, etc. If you are lactose intolerant, eliminate milk products. If spicy foods speed up your gut, eliminate them. Stick with low-residue foods and eat only enough to satisfy your basal metabolism. Eliminate alcohol and reduce caffeine to the bare minimum.

Aha! This plan only makes you quit boozing the night before the marathon. Take that, Viper. As for food, I was going to have a bowl of cereal but have read several places that milk isn’t the greatest, so I’ll prob have some oatmeal and some kind of fruit instead. For lunch, I’ll find some kind of sandwich on the road, and then dinner is the aforementioned pasta party.

The morning of the race, I’ll go with one serving of oatmeal (my pre-race standard), and I’m going to have my mom and friend Kristen stocked up with yellow Gatorade on the course so I can drink that if I want to. They’re supposed to have sports drinks at the aid stations, but I’d rather be prepared in case they have (shudder) red or blue Gatorade instead (come on, don’t race organizers know that yellow is the only good kind of Gatorade?). No gels, as I’ve never really found them to help me (though they do taste delicious) and I didn’t use them in my long run training. And I know I’ve mentioned how I hate drinking water, but since it’s supposed to be hot I will make an extra special effort to have a good amount throughout the race.

Moving away from, Kevin posted Jim2’s Running Page which had some more insight, specifically regarding potassium.
Running low on potassium and other minerals, especially magnesium, which you lose through perspiration…..even in cold weather…..and the consumption of fluids by muscles to generate energy can contribute to muscle cramps late in the race. Extra potassium/magnesium stores going into the race delays the point where they run low and reduces the need to replenish them during the race from sports drinks and gels. Choose extra servings of potassium rich foods, such as bananas, oranges, spinach and other dark green vegetables, etc., during the last few days before your race. I also like to take a potassium supplement for 4-5days before a marathon….a tip I got from a prolific marathoner who is also a pharmacist.
The forecast for Sunday is hot (high of 78), so I’m going to be sweating quite a bit and definitely want to make sure it doesn’t fatigue me. I’ve been keeping up with my multivitamins, but am also going to beef up with one extra vitamin (actually, a pre-natal vitamin) that my doctor gave me samples of when I had that bad sunburn. Plus, I’ll try to have a few extra potassium-rich foods (bananas, oranges, potatoes, spinach), though I won’t go crazy. I don’t want to do things too different from my normal routine, but I don’t think increasing the carbs a bit but still eating healthy, not-high-cal-foods is going to hurt anything.

Though if I really weren’t changing things, the night before the marathon I’d go chug a bottle of jager and then eat several burritos/quesadillas/whatever greasy food I could get my drunken hands on.

Up next: my woes about missing exercise and wanting to go to the gym really, really badly right now even though all the advice says to relax. Oh, and maybe finally the Providence half report, because if I can’t run, I can at least write about running.


11 thoughts on “Pre-Race Diet”

  1. Hey, Laura! Thanks for your comment on my blog. I’ll be thinking happy running thoughts for you on Sunday as you tackle your first marathon. You can do it!

  2. When you train for your next marathon (and, yes, there will be a next one), take carbs into account during training, not just pre-race. That’s where the real efficiencies are gained.

    To wit: It’s a good idea to do your long runs without taking in carbohydrates. This not only teaches your body to burn fat along with glycogen, it also teaches it to replenish glycogen like crazy when it’s in a depleted state.

    The saying goes: “Train low, race high”. That just means you train in a carb-depleted state, and then, on race day, you’ve loaded up on carbs — plus you’re taking them in during the race — and you feel like a million bucks.

    Incidentally, I am a believer in doing a depletion/load phase since it worked so well for me in April. I did this:
    Monday — no carbs (Tuesday — medium carbs (250g)
    Wednesday — no carbs (Thursday — slow, short run in the AM just to further deplete, no food beforehand. Commence carbo loading (350+ grams) until marathon day.

    Maybe it’s the placebo effect, but it worked very well for me. No wall, no bonking during my fastest marathon yet.

  3. Cutting down on alcohol? It’s official, I’m never running a marathon…

    Seriously, be well this weekend. Eat some Ben & Jerry’s for me.

  4. Hey Laura… new to your blog and just reading a few posts back… I think you’ll be fine with the marathon distance. If you’ve been running consistently all year and have some long runs under your belt (nothing wrong with only one 20 miler – look at Hal’s plan for beginners!), you’re doing okay. A friend of mine has run 6 marathons in the past 3 years and has never run a training run longer than 18 miles-it’s all about knowing what your body & mind can handle. As for no gels throughout the marathon – are you taking in any calories? Gatorade might not be enough for the whole 26.2. At minimum, I’d take a gel at mile 18. But like I said, it’s all what you’re used to.

    Good luck!!!

  5. i agree about the gatorade!! although my fav is lemonade – but thats still yellow 🙂 yum…

    good luck sunday!!!! you will do great! let me know if this pre-race diet plan works for you too.

  6. You found some great things there! I definitely agree with not trying to eat more or really over carbo load, your body just can’t use it. you are going to rock this out because you’ve mentally got it taken care of!

  7. I’m with you on anti-red Gatorade. It gives me a headache like nobody’s business. You’ll do well; try not to worry. I think that the nutrition plan sounds good. I’m not a fan of a huge carbo load either.

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